DAGUPAN CITY — Government projects being constructed left and right as well as feverish construction activities by the private sectors had conspired to bring about a temporary shortage of cement at this stage of the summer season.

This was bared by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial office, noting the pressing need for adequate supply of cement for all these projects, many of which are road widening projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Marjorie Loresco, chief of the consumer protection division of DTI provincial office, bared that the cement shortage happened amid the continuing cement production by the Northern Cement Corp. (NCC), the only cement plant operating in Pangasinan located in Sison town.

NCC is producing some 100,000 bags of cement daily which it channels to the markets of Pangasinan, through various dealers across the province and even in adjacent provinces.

“In my view, the problem is due to over increase in demand of cement these days,” Loresco explained while assessing the cement situation in Pangasinan at his stage of the summer when understandably there are more projects and infrastructures being put up by the public and private sectors than in any part of the year.

In many instances, dealers and retailers of cement have almost no cement to sell to their customers with the latter bent on halting their projects till the supply of cement eases.

Loresco believes that the existing output of NCC may not be enough to cope with the actual demands given the fact that there are many infra projects being rushed anywhere in Pangasinan and elsewhere in the country.

Based on the daily withdrawal of cement from NCC as monitored by DTI, there were 1.9 million bags of cement that reached the market from Feb. 1 to 22, in addition to 2.2 million bags in January.

However, despite this, a dealer from San Carlos City admitted it can not cope with the orders, most of which were already paid in advance and was forced to return some of the customer’s money when deliveries of cement bags trickled.

One dealer, Filco of Dagupan city, said one or two hours after the cement deliveries arrive, the supply is gone due to the big numbers of buyers lining up.

Loresco hinted the possibility that contractors of government projects were given priority in the existing supply of cement in Pangasinan and were allowed to purchase their their allocations from dealers for their entire projects, thus causing temporary shortage of cement in the market.

The retail price of one bag of NCC cement is Php 235, up from Php 225 per bag last month. When delivered, per bag of cement costs Php 5 higher.

Loresco called on the consumers no to panic over the temporary cement shortage as this will soon be over in a few days.

He said NCC is about to commission a new cement manufacturing machine and may already be put to work by the second week of March which can double the cement production of the plant.

This means that if NCC is producing a minimum of 100,000 bags of cement these days, this will become 200,000 bags if the new machine will soon be in full harness.

Another cement product, Holcim, is also being sold in Pangasinan but households prefer to buy NCC cement because it is cheaper by few pesos since it is produced in Pangasinan. PNA/northboundasia.com